Book Review: Mind: The Beginning (The Mind Series Book 1) by Jenn Nixon

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Mind: The Beginning (The Mind Series Book 1) by Jenn Nixon

A Science Fiction Novel published by Vamptasy Publishing (11/04/15)

Summary:

Dina Ranger is special, and just like her twin brother Duncan, she has telepathic abilities. Unlike her brother, she is more a loose cannon, moving away any time things get too heavy. Telepathy is kept under wraps, but sometimes Dina has to use her abilities. Eventually she comes back to her brother and his company of telepathic people because she is needed to help them solve an alien mystery. It isn’t just chance that has Dina involved in this case, and Dina will end up learning more about herself than she ever wanted. She will also meet Liam and their romance takes over.

 

Keywords:

Mind Powers, Psychic, Bad Guys, Aliens, Heritage, Ship, Romance, Sex, Twins, Multiple POV, Fighting, Chasing, Discovery, Government, Powers, Strong

 

My Review:

For a book marketed as a science fiction novel involving aliens and self-discovery, the book took a hot and heavy romantic turn about halfway through. The author left off her science fiction plot and relied heavily on the romance to intrigue the reader. I was not intrigued. I wanted the science fiction plot more than the romance between Liam and Dina and thought this romance took away from any science fiction elements in the book.

When the action started to pick up, it became too much. There wasn’t enough balance between action and romance and plot. It was all romance and all action after action after action sequence.

The concept of aliens and telepathy and truth about learning about Dina’s abilities were what grabbed me about this book, but the overwhelming head hopping, typos, and confusing mind talk and POV changes were hard to read. But if you like romance to be the main part of your sci-fi book, then you might like Mind: The Beginning. I, for one, will not read further in this series and was disappointed that it was classified as science fiction when it should have been marketed as a romance with sci-fi elements.

This novel was published by Vamptasy Publishing on November 4th, 2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 2.50

Links for more information:

Jenn Nixon’s Website

Goodreads

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Book Review: Puppet by Pauline C. Harris

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Puppet by Pauline C. Harris

A YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novel published by Patchwork Press (10/17/14)

 

Summary:

“What I am now was derived from things like that puppet onstage. In many ways, we’re alike; the same. Controlled by others in a world where all you want is to be free.” (Kindle Locations 1121-1122).

Puppet is a twisted retelling of Pinocchio, where Penelope is a real girl with real problems who is recruited (somewhat forced to volunteer) to be an experiment by her new adoptee father Jed. He has created an advanced technology that allows Pen to be stronger, faster, and more like a puppet than ever…. Her abilities make her a liability and so she must be curbed, but Jed doesn’t have that technology yet and what he has to do to make it so she is free takes away all the freedoms she thought she wanted.

 

Keywords:

Orphan, Experiment, Retelling, Pinocchio, Girl with Power, Puppet, Advanced Technology, Scientists, Humanity, Vulnerability, Lies, Past Life, Normal

 

My Review:

This shorter novel contained many similarities to the Mechanical Trilogy by the same author, Pauline C. Harris, as if this shorter version is the inspiration for the trilogy. There were similar themes, events, and characters between Puppet and the Mechanical Trilogy. At one point, someone throws something fast and without warning at Pen’s head and she is able to catch it with her newfound abilities, just like in both stories.

I thought it was really clever some of the integrations of Pinocchio with this modern sci fi retelling of the tale. The smooth inclusion of taking away Pen’s ability to lie was quite interesting. I could clearly see the imagination of the author at work.

The appearance of a carnival in the middle of the woods is random and seems unrelated to the plot.

There was a lack of clarity and definition for the science or technology or the more general description of a world with this type of technology.

The version I read, downloaded for kindle from Amazon contained very little proper ebook formatting. The book was simple, though, and flowed enough where the lack of spacing and justifying didn’t actually detract from the speed and ease of reading, just detracted from the maturity and responsibility of the publisher and the author.

This novel was published by Patchwork Press October 17th, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 2.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Pauline C. Harris’s Website and Blog

Book Review: The Secrets of Evelyn Taylor by Pauline C. Harris

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The Secrets of Evelyn Taylor by Pauline C. Harris

A YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novelette published by Amazon Digital Services (04/08/13)

Summary:

“Remember. Remember. Don’t forget. The words swirled through my mind. What did they mean? What were all these secrets? Greta, Ms. Ferguson, Sophie and Jill kept secrets from me. Even my mind kept secrets from me. Was there anyone or anything that could be honest with me?” (Kindle Locations 1081-1083).

Evelyn Taylor needs to remember. But what is she forgetting? There is a reason she is holed up in a house and kept in a perpetual eighth grade. There is a reason she is not allowed outside.

Keywords:

Speculative Fiction, Past Life, Erased Memory, Caretakers, Plants, Remembering, 14 Years Old, New Life, Curiosity, Young Writer

 

My Review:

I was greatly disappointed with this book, however, I didn’t realize it was written by a teenager. What does a thirteen year old know about writing? What does a thirteen year old know about the world? Pauline C. Harris knew enough to craft a fun, easy read, but she was missing some of the important elements to bring the book together and make it something great.

Harris keeps both the reader and the main character Evelyn in the dark about what is really going on. To begin, all the reader gets is a confused day to day randomness with hints at something bigger in the background. Harris keeps the meat of the story withheld too long and I think it would have been more interesting to have more of a clue of what was going on or to make this a short story and not try to make it a standalone novel. There is not enough of the story. There were too many characters introduced late in the story and not enough descriptions and personalities ascribed to them.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services April 8th, 2013 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Pauline C. Harris’s Website and Blog

Book Review: Mechanical Trilogy by Pauline C. Harris

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Mechanical Trilogy by Pauline C. Harris

Mechanical – A YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novelette published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Books (04/28/13)

Perfect – A YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novelette published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Books (07/27/13)

Flawed – A YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novelette published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Books (11/07/13)

My Review:

 

I am going to review the entire trilogy in one post as each book was not very long and the trilogy could have been one book in the first place. Also, I will not be posting full reviews to Amazon/Goodreads as I admire what the author is doing and thought her last book published was stellar (The Hourglass) and the fact that this trilogy was so poorly done shouldn’t count against her as an author or for her future works.

The Mechanical Trilogy was a disappointment to me as a reader but much more impressive when I took into consideration that the author (at the time) was only a teenager. This fact, however, doesn’t make the book better it just makes me consider the book differently. Perhaps knowing how young the author was would have been helpful to know before I read the books rather than after as I would have let a lot more things that weren’t so great slide.

The message Harris was conveying with her trilogy was a good one: nobody is perfect and it’s ok to be flawed. Her dystopian theme was neat, with robots vs. people as the main component. Where things fell apart was the lack of cohesion overall, the plot randomness without many plot points being supported, the obvious lack of an outline, the unreality of the technology and the decisions the characters made, the immaturity of the characters that were supposed to be “perfect” but had obvious lacks of intelligence and ability to think through situations clearly. The author never went very deep into any action. For instance, multiple times the rebel characters wanted to break into the institution and every time they were able to with the first idea they came up with. It wasn’t suspending disbelief but rather there was no reality to the actions and sequences.

I really wish the mechanized humans acted like the ‘perfect’ machines they were supposed to be, except in reality they were rather pathetic in their reasoning abilities and intelligence and understanding. Even normal humans are many times more clever than the ‘perfect’ mechanical characters Harris created. If the androids are so perfect, why do they keep making the most ridiculously stupid mistakes? Sure it moves the plot along, but it’s at odds with the concept Harris is trying to get across. Most of the time the characters just went along with everything, didn’t question things, didn’t think out the possibilities, and didn’t try to escape. Much of the second book was the group of rebels trying to escape from the institution creators and robots over and over. They were just reacting to the situation and not learning from any of their experiences.

The world they lived in never felt real. The author didn’t bring the far-fetched concept (perfecting humans by making them androids) into reality. She also never defined how her magic-like technology could even exist and there weren’t other examples of futuristic technology. Mechanical was isolated.

The writing itself displayed many amateur mistakes that popped out like using frequently the words, “just then,” “as I was,” and “suddenly.” Still, there was something that compelled me to read all three books (could be the short length of each one individually) and I wanted to stick it out for an author that truly amazed me with Hourglass. I recommend skipping this trilogy entirely and going straight to her truly finessed work.

This trilogy was published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Books and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 2.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Pauline C. Harris’s Website and Blog

Book Review: Spectre of Intention by Tonya Macalino

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Spectre of Intention by Tonya Macalino

A Cerebral Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novel published by Crystal Mosaic Books (12/10/2013)

 

Summary:

“…Kaitlin Osgood, Senior VP of Sales and Project Management for Countermeasures International. She was smart, she was competent, and she would find a way through this.” (Pages 61-62).

You might describe Kaitlin Osgood as having ‘two faces’ or being schizophrenic at times, but she has evolved to become Kaitlin, shedding her old life and self and personality as Ashley Porter. She is well into becoming a woman of business and success -as new and improved Kaitlin- when her current job leads to a run in with her old life and people she knew as Ashley. When her job and self are threatened, who will she turn to in order to get out of trouble – solid businesswoman and professional Kaitlin or street tough thief Ashley?

 

Keywords:

 Two-sided, Female Main Character, Sci-Fi, Space Elevator, Security Team, Professionals, Criminals, Violence, Threats, Thief, Past Life, Friends, Lover, Rebuilding Oneself, Sensing Emotions, Talents, Secrets

My Review:

The moment the book begins, it is as if the reader has been dropped into the middle of the story and the author gives no backstory or catchup or narrative explanation. As a reader you must glean as much information as you can to figure out what is going on. To help, you can re-read the summary of the book, as it gives the most precise explanation for what and who the main character is.

This story operates on the principle of the untold story as the author does more showing then telling, leaving the reader to go, “what?” It is difficult to understand what is going on and what the characters are thinking. The reader is on the outside looking in, left to the whims of what is going on and what the characters are saying without narrative guidance or character thoughts to guide the reader. It is difficult to grasp what is going on, especially at first.

The author brings to life the story of ‘what if.’ What if you had the superpower of… What would you be like? How would you live? What could you do if you had that power? Kaitlin is blessed (or cursed as is always the questions) with one such power and this book explores a piece of her life when another part of it intrudes and tries to take over. For those who like Science Fantasy novels that skirt the edge of philosophical, you might like Spectre of Intention

This novel was published by Crystal Mosaic Books 12/10/2013 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Tonya Macalino’s Website

Book Review: Ghost Storm by Sechin Tower

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Ghost Storm by Sechin Tower

A YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novel published by Sechin Tower (07/17/15)

Summary:

“…sometimes it’s better to stand out badly than to fit in adequately.” (Page 68).

Dean Lazarchek is still dean of students at the Mechanical Science Institute… for now. He still feels inadequate to lead his students and to keep them from harm, after all he was just a firefighter before he stepped in to fill his dead fiancé’s role as dean. She left large shoes to fill, but after fighting off the near destruction of the world as we know it, another threat looms on the horizon and this one has memory lane written all over it. Will Dean be able to prove to himself that he’s right for the job and save his students?

 

Keywords:

Tesla, Twain, Scientists, Hackers, Save the World, University, Experiments, Mad Scientists, Explosions, Bad Guys, Danger, Thugs, Technology, Clueless, Lighting, Storms

 

My Review:

Ghost Storm is told only from the point of view of Dean and in the beginning he’s a bit pessimistic/depressing/sad. I miss the chaotic brain of Soap and her female perspective in Ghost Storm. Having the POV of just one person and for him to be a grieving adult, pushes this third book in the series to a more advanced age group. There are explosions and evil and fighting to save the world still, but the mood and tone of the narrator makes for a more ‘adult’ book that would probably appeal more to an adultier audience.

Soap, a character we grew to love in books one and two is almost nonexistant in this third book. Most of the students are given less time and less action in this book, though we are introduced to a new student who helps to save the day, Cake.

Technology and science in the book is cool, still above my head, but way cool the things that they can do. The technology really is able to move the plot along, for without the Predecessors and their Teslanium there would be no bid to end the world or to destroy everything in the name of saving the world.

This novel was published by Sechin Tower on July 17th, 2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Sechin Tower’s Website

Twitter

Book Review: Evolution: HEX (The Evolution Series Book 3) by S.A. Huchton

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Evolution: HEX (The Evolution Series Book 3) by S.A. Huchton

A Sci-Fi/Fantasy/New Adult Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (07/05/14)

 

Summary:

“The line between enemy and ally wasn’t a line at all; it was a fuzzy, ever-shifting radius of complexity and situational dependency. (Page 34).

In this final installment in the Evolution Series, Candace must once again be strong in her convictions and in her abilities and relationships to get through tough times and save the day. She was kidnapped at the end of Book Two and now is imprisoned in enemy territory. Not everything she has been told about Hex and Dr. Ferdinand are true, but is everything she knows and has been told about the ANGEL project and the SAGES true as well? It will take Candace all her strength to fight this one last battle and to figure out who the enemy really is.

 

Keywords:

Genetic Manipulation, Superheroes, Comic Books, Books, Tough, instability, romance, love, hormones, leader, kick-butt female, sex, fighting, training, good guys, testing, banter

My Review:

I love it when a third book in a trilogy comes with enough resolution to leave the reader satisfied with the overall story, but also contains its own plot within the grander plot. Huchton delivers on both fronts. There was a grand climax and a thorough resolution with a surprise ending that, when looking back, was all but inevitable due to events in this third book.

Huchton’s plot throughout this series was a bit lumpy in pace in that the first book was like a standalone novel and the second novel continued many subplots, but the overarching series plot was introduced indirectly in the second book and fully revealed in this final book. The big picture was at last revealed in the final book and leaves both Candace and the reader wondering what is the truth and who is the enemy?

Questions of morals and enemy lines blurring make for the most interesting plot complications in the Evolution Series, and especially in this third book.

The relationship between Jackson and Candace takes a deep hit and the emotional suspense is so hard to take. Huchton really knows how to write a heart throbbing romance with deeply emotional characters who really feel for each other and their love is palpable and rich.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on July 5th, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

 

Links for more information:

Starla Huchton’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Evolution: SAGE (The Evolution Series Book 2) by S.A. Huchton

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Evolution: SAGE (The Evolution Series Book 2) by S.A. Huchton

A Sci-Fi/Fantasy/New Adult Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (05/04/14)

 

Summary:

“If you don’t give people a chance to be better, they never will be.” (Page 375).

Evolution Sage picks up right where Evolution Angel leaves off, with a depressed and devastated Candace for what happened and what she did to Adrian. For weeks she gives up on everything, purposeless and wracked with guilt. It isn’t until Jackson makes a comment to her about moving on or giving up and she is given a new purpose by the facility that she is finally ready to move ahead with her life. A new threat lies on the horizon and this enemy has been around for a long time, just now making their move. It is up to the ANGELS to get ready for this new, stronger enemy and they will turn to a higher level of experimentation to improve their already super hero super powers, but what will the consequences be this time?

 

Keywords:

Genetic Manipulation, Superheroes, Comic Books, Books, Tough, instability, romance, love, hormones, leader, kick-butt female, sex, fighting, training, good guys, testing, banter, Hard Decisions

My Review:

The more I read, the more I fall in love with the characters. I absolutely adore and look up to Candace. She’s not afraid to say that she’s wrong or being too anything: too hard, too harsh, or too emotional. She has the ability to self-analyze and adapt. She harnesses her ability and hones her skills, discovers new things about herself and her abilities. When SAGE begins, a new level of herself is opened up and she explores even more new possibilities for her weapon even as she’s haunted by the power she used on Adrian in Evolution Angel.

Jackson. Swoon. He was the bad boy attitude problem, snarky comment, easily angered boy from Evolution Angel. Now that Adrian is no longer in the picture he gets to have his day. All along I’m sure Starla had great plans for Jackson, she was just biding her time and building him up as a person. Jackson is the real romantic fantasy. He is flawed and angry. He has a past that is terrible and hangs over his personality. He cares for Candace, but tries to hide his feelings for her. He is rude at times, but is extremely polite when he needs to be a gentleman. He is also insanely good looking and every time Candace gets too close to him,  she can feel him and knows that she wants him.

The relationship between Jackson and Candace gets its day in book two of the Evolution Series and it’s a wonder to behold. Starla built up this relationship from the first time they saw each other, when they hated one another. “I’ve hated you for a long time. I hated you for making me want someone. I hated you for being with Adrian. I hated you for what you dissolved into after he was gone. I couldn’t stand it, Candace. No one thought I was worth helping, and I believed it. And then you helped me, for no other reason except that you could. You caught me in almost every lie I’ve ever told you. You challenge everything I say. You took everything I thought was true and turned it upside down.” (Pages 249-250).

Jackson and Candace are so emotionally charged when they’re together, so destructive, so powerful, and I could go on and on. The best romances are the ones that happen within a story that already has a powerful plot.

Starla has built a powerful, mesmerizing plot full of characters that are emotionally appealing and fascinating to watch. Candace is tough and rational, but also very prone to feeling sad or weak when everything is against her. She is so real, even as she can control a person through her connection to the water in their veins. I love how she stands by her convictions and sticks to her morals when making decisions and weighing the pros and cons before making a tough decision.
My only critique for this book was that the ending is abrupt and right in the middle of action. Thank goodness book three is already available.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on May 4th, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

 

Links for more information:

Starla Huchton’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Evolution: Angel (The Evolution) (Volume 1) by S.A. Huchton

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Evolution: Angel (The Evolution) (Volume 1) by S.A. Huchton

A Sci-Fi/Fantasy/New Adult Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (02/25/14)

 

Summary:

“Knowing what came with great power and experiencing that weight was so vastly different you couldn’t even see the other side of the chasm between them. (Page 241).”

From the very first moment that Candace Bristol and her cousin Gabe saw the ANGELs in action, they knew they wanted to join the project and become two of the world’s superheroes. Fast forward four years when Gabe is already in training and Candace has just sent in her application. Not everyone gets accepted and not everyone can make it because it takes special genetics and a special comportment to be able to make it as an ANGEL.

When Candace is accepted, she is elated and she knows that there will be more going on than she has researched about the ANGELs. When she gets to the training grounds she is overwhelmed by some of the aspects of the project, but she steps up as a leader.

 

Keywords:

Genetic Manipulation, Superheroes, Comic Books, Books, Tough, instability, romance, love, hormones, leader, kick-butt female, sex, fighting, training, good guys, testing, banter

My Review:

Every girl wants a comic book hero to look up to and wish to have their powers. What we get are an assortment of men with superpowers and women who look pretty in skintight clothes with lame powers. What Huchton does in her superhero series is give us a real kick-butt female with real superpowers. Huchton has diverse characters that look and act different and have unique personalities.

Candace is a strong Alpha personality. She’s very curious, very go getter, very nothing gets in her way. She’s an open, up front person who does what she wants to do, says what she thinks, and doesn’t let anyone get her down. She is already a super hero inside. She sees the good in people and makes sure they don’t get away with their nonsense when they’re up to no good.

Adrian is the unassuming librarian with the sexy baritone voice. There was something in his past that gives him a chip on his shoulder and he has trouble thinking he is worth the love and effort of others.

Gabe is Candace’s older cousin and comic relief in the story. They continuously banter and at first Gabe tries to look out for her, but she is too independent and stubborn to let that fly. She would rather fall on her own, then be helped along.

Jackson is the troubled bad boy with an attitude problem. Does he secretly have a thing for Candace? Not going to tell you! “I think he could possibly be motivated to work with others on a team. While he’s abrasive and not a little trying on my patience, I don’t think he’s unsympathetic to others and he knows not to cross certain boundaries. If he’s here at all, it’s because it was his choice, isn’t it?”) (Page 86).

There’s also Ella, Candace’s friend and fellow trainee, True from the first wave of ANGELS, and Hector, etc. There was such a range of characters to get to know and love.

I thought the raging hormones bit was overplayed, but it did add a sense of hilarity, brusqueness, and urgency to the ANGEL’s actions.

The ending was so emotional and so devastating and left me itching for book two. Starla Huchton is a genius and a beautiful story-crafter and this series is a great one to read.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on Feburary 25th, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

 

Links for more information:

Starla Huchton’s Website

Goodreads

Dawn of Steam Release Party (Renton, WA) this Saturday! Steampunk

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This Saturday, from 4 PM to 8:30 PM at the AFK Elixirs and Eatery in Renton, come out to the Dawn of Steam release party! Come dressed in your Steampunk finest, snag a signed copy of the book, and chat with like-minded readers.

For more info on the event, click here.